Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Concert as Madeleine

Looking over yesterday's post, I realize that this one two-hour student recital seems to have unleashed a flood of memories. Most of them were already "brewing" while I was listening to the performances. All I had to do when I got back to the computer was refine them and turn them from a mental muddle into something (hopefully) readable. Refining was not an easy matter. Once I started writing I realized that I had totally forgotten the name of DARMS, and I have to confess that Google was very helpful went it came to tying up such loose ends. Rendering was more interesting, since I realize that all those memories found themselves organized in the structure of a "life story" (with a nod to Charlotte Linde). This, in turn, reminded me of one of Jerome Bruner's most interesting remarks in his Acts of Meaning book, when he credits Jean Mandler with the observation "that what does not get structured narratively suffers loss in memory." In other words I was experiencing the preservation of memories triggered by this one concert experience by structuring them as autobiographical narrative. Consequently, I finally "got," in a genuinely internal way (albeit on a far more modest scale), Proust's experience through which the taste of a madeleine in tea could trigger the memory of an entire life (which, in his case, however ordinary, was rendered in epic proportions). That, in itself, made yesterday's "trip" entirely worth the effort!

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